Preprint Communication Version 2 Preserved in Portico This version is not peer-reviewed

Elephants, Mobility and Captivity: What Can These Mighty and Majestic Animals Teach Us About Joint Health and Osteoarthritis?

Version 1 : Received: 10 December 2020 / Approved: 11 December 2020 / Online: 11 December 2020 (08:49:07 CET)
Version 2 : Received: 17 January 2021 / Approved: 18 January 2021 / Online: 18 January 2021 (17:30:32 CET)

How to cite: Mobasheri, A.; Buckley, C. Elephants, Mobility and Captivity: What Can These Mighty and Majestic Animals Teach Us About Joint Health and Osteoarthritis?. Preprints 2020, 2020120271 (doi: 10.20944/preprints202012.0271.v2). Mobasheri, A.; Buckley, C. Elephants, Mobility and Captivity: What Can These Mighty and Majestic Animals Teach Us About Joint Health and Osteoarthritis?. Preprints 2020, 2020120271 (doi: 10.20944/preprints202012.0271.v2).

Abstract

The African bush and forest elephants, Loxodonta Africana and Loxodonta cyclotis, and the Asian elephant, Elephas maximus, are the largest land-dwelling animals. Elephants need to be highly mobile and active in order to find fresh food and water, and in the case of males, to locate females in estrus for breeding. Asian elephants walk up to 21 km each day and African elephants can walk up to 28 km per day. This high level of mobility in the wild is also important for maintaining an optimum musculoskeletal health. However, most zoo elephants live in restricted spaces and cold climates that require extended periods of indoor confinement are therefore unable to be as physically active. Zoo enclosures for elephants are relatively small with hard surfaces (i.e. concrete, tarmac and hard packed dirt), so they cannot exercise and are forced to stand on unnaturally hard surfaces continually. Physical inactivity in captivity makes them more prone to gaining weight and developing bone and joint diseases such as osteomyelitis, joint ankylosis and osteoarthritis (OA). Many health and welfare problems in captive elephants are likely to be caused by the lack of mobility. This perspective article focuses on the possible link between captivity, mobility, physical inactivity and the development of OA in captive elephants.

Subject Areas

osteoarthritis; African elephant; Asian elephant; captivity; housing; mobility

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